Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Review: Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch

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Title: Snow Like Ashes (Snow Like Ashes #1)
Author:
Sara Raasch
Publisher: Balzer + Bray (HarperCollins)
Release Date: October 14, 2014
Acquired Via: Edelweiss

Sixteen years ago the Kingdom of Winter was conquered and its citizens enslaved, leaving them without magic or a monarch. Now the Winterians' only hope for freedom is the eight survivors who managed to escape, and who have been waiting for the opportunity to steal back Winter's magic and rebuild the kingdom ever since.

Orphaned as an infant during Winter's defeat, Meira has lived her whole life as a refugee, raised by the Winterians' general, Sir. Training to be a warrior—and desperately in love with her best friend and future king, Mather—she would do anything to help Winter rise to power again.

So when scouts discover the location of the ancient locket that can restore their magic, Meira decides to go after it herself. Finally, she's scaling towers and fighting enemy soldiers just as she's always dreamed she would. But the mission doesn't go as planned, and Meira soon finds herself thrust into a world of evil magic and dangerous politics—and ultimately comes to realize that her destiny is not, never has been, her own.


My Review

You can read Kayla's review HERE.

Snow Like Ashes is one of my favorite reads of the year. Besides Meira being one of my favorite heroines, the world was stunning, imaginative and bleak.

I'll admit that I was a little confused in the first chapter or so with the world and kingdoms. I'm glad that Sara Raasch posted a map of Primoria on her Tumblr, because I did not have the setup of the kingdoms right at all (my e-ARC had a small map in the front, but it was impossible to see on my Kindle). I liked the setup of the kingdoms - four Season kingdoms that each have only one season, and four rhythm kingdoms that cycle normally through all four seasons. It did take a little bit of suspension of disbelief, but it's fantasy, so that's par for the course. My main confusion was regarding where the magic was actually "located" and that was helped by the map.

When Meira was a baby, Spring invaded and enslaved Winter. 25 refugees escaped Spring's wrath, now down to eight when Meira is a teenager. The final eight refugees are now looking for the source of their kingdom's magic which was broken by Spring all those years ago - two pieces to a pendant. Each of the eight kingdoms has a trinket owned by its monarch, either king or queen, which imbues them with magic. Winter's magic passes through the female line, and only a female can wield the trinket even once the refugees find the pieces. However, only one male member of the royal family escaped.

Meira was pretty much all I could ask for in a heroine. She had some flaws, but they just made her more likable. She was seriously skilled with her weapons, in particularly her weapon of choice, the chakram (and the cover image made soooooo much more sense when I realized that it was a chakram). She was a little rash and impulsive, but at least she had the fighting skills and was quick-witted enough to get her out of her self-created bad situations. There were a few instances of whining and moping, BUT these were not induced by a boy (more on the boys later). Mostly, Meira is worried about how she will help her kingdom. She matures enough throughout the book to realize what she wants to do may not be the best way to help her kingdom.

There is a love triangle, but it isn't an annoying one (or not much so). It is pretty quickly resolved, and I think that the choice was the more mature one. She doesn't really choose so much as realize the path she was forced into is the best for her kingdom. It also helps that both boys are equally likable.

My only complaints are that the big reveal is predictable and I wanted more information on the villain. I had to think for a little while before I could even come up with the second complaint. That's how much I was loving this book. I'm glad I started Snow Like Ashes on the weekend because I stayed up past 3:00 a.m. to finish it. The ending was awesome, especially since it tied up a lot of threads in the first book, but also left some unraveled for the sequel, which I can't wait to read.

If you like well-imagined fantasy worlds with a touch of teenage romance and a kick-ass heroine, I think you'll enjoy Snow Like Ashes.

- 5/5 Stars -

Buy Links
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository| Fish Pond



To satisfy FTC guidelines, I am disclosing that I received an advance copy of the book from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

Top Ten Tuesday: New Series I Want to Start

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Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created and hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

Top Ten Series I Want to Start



1. Sparrow Hill Road (Ghost Stories #1) by Seanan McGuire
May 6, 2014

Rose Marshall died in 1952 in Buckley Township, Michigan, run off the road by a man named Bobby Cross—a man who had sold his soul to live forever, and intended to use her death to pay the price of his immortality. Trouble was, he didn’t ask Rose what she thought of the idea.

It’s been more than sixty years since that night, and she’s still sixteen, and she’s still running.

They have names for her all over the country: the Girl in the Diner. The Phantom Prom Date. The Girl in the Green Silk Gown. Mostly she just goes by “Rose,” a hitchhiking ghost girl with her thumb out and her eyes fixed on the horizon, trying to outrace a man who never sleeps, never stops, and never gives up on the idea of claiming what’s his. She’s the angel of the overpass, she’s the darling of the truck stops, and she’s going to figure out a way to win her freedom. After all, it’s not like it can kill her.

You can’t kill what’s already dead.


I'm reading and enjoying McGuire's October Daye series. I had previously tried her InCryptid series, and while I liked it, I haven't continued in the series. But, McGuire has a lot of talent in creating imaginative worlds and likable heroines. I'm interested in seeing what she does with a ghost story.



2. Dirty Magic (Prospero's War #1) by Jaye Wells
January 21, 2014

The last thing patrol cop Kate Prospero expected to find on her nightly rounds was a werewolf covered in the blood of his latest victim. But then, she also didn't expect that shooting him would land her in the crosshairs of a Magic Enforcement Agency task force, who wants to know why she killed their lead snitch.

The more Prospero learns about the dangerous new potion the MEA is investigating, the more she's convinced that earning a spot on their task force is the career break she's been wanting. But getting the assignment proves much easier than solving the case. Especially once the investigation reveals their lead suspect is the man she walked away from ten years earlier—on the same day she swore she'd never use dirty magic again.

Kate Prospero's about to learn the hard way that crossing a wizard will always get you burned, and that when it comes to magic, you should be never say never.


I've read and enjoyed most of Wells' Sabine Kane series. Since I enjoy witches/mages/wizards way more than I do vampires, I'm really excited about this new series. I just haven't made time yet to read it.



3. Trial by Fire (The Worldwalker Trilogy #1) by Josephine Angelini
September 2, 2014

This world is trying to kill Lily Proctor. Her life-threatening allergies keep her from enjoying experiences that others in her hometown of Salem take for granted, which is why she is determined to enjoy her first high school party with her best friend and longtime crush, Tristan. But after a humiliating incident in front of half her graduating class, Lily wishes she could just disappear.

Suddenly, Lily is in a different Salem—one overrun with horrifying creatures and ruled by powerful women called Crucibles. Strongest and cruelest of them all is Lillian . . . Lily's other self in this alternate universe.

What makes Lily weak at home is what makes her extraordinary in New Salem. In this confusing world, Lily is torn between responsibilities she can't hope to shoulder alone and a love she never expected.


I read the first two books in Angelini's Starcrossed series, which were pretty good. I'm interested in seeing how she handles witches. Plus, Kayla really liked it, so it automatically goes on the "must read" list. You can read her review HERE.



4. Lark Rising (Gaurdians of Tarnec #1) by Sandra Waugh
September 23, 2014

Lark has foreseen two things—she will fall for a young man with sage green eyes,and he will kill her.

Sixteen-year-old Lark Carew is happiest close to home, tending her garden and gathering herbs for medicines. But when her Sight warns her that monsters called Troths will soon invade her village, Lark is summoned on a journey to seek help from the legendary Riders of Tarnec. Little does she suspect that one of the Riders, Gharain, is the very man who has haunted her visions. Or that the people of Tarnec have called her there for another reason: Lark is the Guardian of Life, the first of four Guardians who must awaken their powers to recover four stolen amulets. Together, the amulets—Life, Death, Dark, and Light—keep the world in Balance. To take back the Life amulet, Lark will have to discover her true inner strength and give in to a love that she swears will be her downfall.


I just love a fantasy adventure, especially when the main characters must hunt down powerful amulets/swords/any magical artifacts. Blame it on my favorite game, Zelda. I'm not sure how I feel about the lyrical, poetic writing, though.



5. The Mirror Empire (Worldbreaker Saga #1) by Kameron Hurley
April 26, 2014

On the eve of a recurring catastrophic event known to extinguish nations and reshape continents, a troubled orphan evades death and slavery to uncover her own bloody past… while a world goes to war with itself.

In the frozen kingdom of Saiduan, invaders from another realm are decimating whole cities, leaving behind nothing but ash and ruin.

As the dark star of the cataclysm rises, an illegitimate ruler is tasked with holding together a country fractured by civil war, a precocious young fighter is asked to betray his family and a half-Dhai general must choose between the eradication of her father’s people or loyalty to her alien Empress.

Through tense alliances and devastating betrayal, the Dhai and their allies attempt to hold against a seemingly unstoppable force as enemy nations prepare for a coming together of worlds as old as the universe itself.

In the end, one world will rise – and many will perish.


Kameron Hurley is a pretty cool and very outspoken person. I've read a few of her articles and blog posts, and it's made me really interested in reading her novels. Plus, I'm always up for reading speculative fiction written by a woman.



6. Exquisite Captive (Dark Caravan Cycle #1) by Heather Demetrios
October 7, 2014

Forced to obey her master.
Compelled to help her enemy.
Determined to free herself.

Nalia is a jinni of tremendous ancient power, the only survivor of a coup that killed nearly everyone she loved. Stuffed into a bottle and sold by a slave trader, she’s now in hiding on the dark caravan, the lucrative jinni slave trade between Arjinna and Earth, where jinn are forced to grant wishes and obey their human masters’ every command. She’d give almost anything to be free of the golden shackles that bind her to Malek, her handsome, cruel master, and his lavish Hollywood lifestyle.

Enter Raif, the enigmatic leader of Arjinna’s revolution and Nalia’s sworn enemy. He promises to free Nalia from her master so that she can return to her ravaged homeland and free her imprisoned brother—all for an unbearably high price. Nalia’s not sure she can trust him, but Raif’s her only hope of escape. With her enemies on the hunt, Earth has become more perilous than ever for Nalia. There’s just one catch: for Raif’s unbinding magic to work, Nalia must gain possession of her bottle…and convince the dangerously persuasive Malek that she truly loves him. Battling a dark past and harboring a terrible secret, Nalia soon realizes her freedom may come at a price too terrible to pay: but how far is she willing to go for it?

Inspired by Arabian Nights, Exquisite Captive brings to life a deliciously seductive world where a wish can be a curse and shadows are sometimes safer than the light.


This is a mix of a whole lot of different things - sci-fi, genies, Middle-Eastern mythology. I'm interested in seeing if Demetrios pulls it off. Kayla liked it, and you can read her review HERE.



7. Of Metal and Wishes (Of Metal and Wishes #1) by Sarah Fine
August 5, 2014

There are whispers of a ghost in the slaughterhouse where sixteen-year-old Wen assists her father in his medical clinic—a ghost who grants wishes to those who need them most. When one of the Noor, men hired as cheap factory labor, humiliates Wen, she makes an impulsive wish of her own, and the Ghost grants it. Brutally.

Guilt-ridden, Wen befriends the Noor, including their outspoken leader, a young man named Melik. At the same time, she is lured by the mystery of the Ghost and learns he has been watching her … for a very long time.

As deadly accidents fuel tensions within the factory, Wen must confront her growing feelings for Melik, who is enraged at the sadistic factory bosses and the prejudice faced by his people at the hand of Wen’s, and her need to appease the Ghost, who is determined to protect her against any threat—real or imagined. She must decide whom she can trust, because as her heart is torn, the factory is exploding around her … and she might go down with it.


I've seen a lot of praise for Fine's work, and I have her the first in her Guards of the Shadowlands, Sanctum, on my Kindle now.



8. The Young Elites (The Young Elites #1) by Marie Lu
October 7, 2014

I am tired of being used, hurt, and cast aside.

Adelina Amouteru is a survivor of the blood fever. A decade ago, the deadly illness swept through her nation. Most of the infected perished, while many of the children who survived were left with strange markings. Adelina’s black hair turned silver, her lashes went pale, and now she has only a jagged scar where her left eye once was. Her cruel father believes she is a malfetto, an abomination, ruining their family’s good name and standing in the way of their fortune. But some of the fever’s survivors are rumored to possess more than just scars—they are believed to have mysterious and powerful gifts, and though their identities remain secret, they have come to be called the Young Elites.

Teren Santoro works for the king. As Leader of the Inquisition Axis, it is his job to seek out the Young Elites, to destroy them before they destroy the nation. He believes the Young Elites to be dangerous and vengeful, but it’s Teren who may possess the darkest secret of all.

Enzo Valenciano is a member of the Dagger Society. This secret sect of Young Elites seeks out others like them before the Inquisition Axis can. But when the Daggers find Adelina, they discover someone with powers like they’ve never seen.

Adelina wants to believe Enzo is on her side, and that Teren is the true enemy. But the lives of these three will collide in unexpected ways, as each fights a very different and personal battle. But of one thing they are all certain: Adelina has abilities that shouldn’t belong in this world. A vengeful blackness in her heart. And a desire to destroy all who dare to cross her.

It is my turn to use. My turn to hurt.


I loved Lu's Legend, so I'm interested in seeing what she does with her new series. You can read Kayla's review HERE.



9. Romancing the Duke (Castles Ever After #1) by Tessa Dare
January 28, 2014

As the daughter of a famed author, Isolde Ophelia Goodnight grew up on tales of brave knights and fair maidens. She never doubted romance would be in her future, too. The storybooks offered endless possibilities.

And as she grew older, Izzy crossed them off. One by one by one.

Ugly duckling turned swan?
Abducted by handsome highwayman?
Rescued from drudgery by charming prince?


No, no, and… Heh.

Now Izzy’s given up yearning for romance. She’ll settle for a roof over her head. What fairy tales are left over for an impoverished twenty-six year-old woman who’s never even been kissed?

This one.


I enjoyed Dare's Spindle Cove series, especially A Week to Be Wicked, so I'm looking forward to her new Historical Romance series. Kayla was awesome enough to score me a signed copy of this, but I don't want to mess it up by actually reading it. *First World Problems*



10. Ghost Seer (Ghost Seer #1) by Robin D. Owens
April 1, 2014

There’s just something about Clare. Apart from the ghosts…...

When her eccentric aunt passes away, no-nonsense accountant Clare Cermac inherits more than just a small fortune. She receives the gift of communicating with ghosts. While Clare may not believe in spirits, it’s hard to overlook the shadowy talking dog appearing on her bed or spectral cowboys tipping their hats to her in the streets of Denver. And when she locks eyes with sexy—and living—Zach Slade, there’s certainly no ignoring him either.

A former deputy sheriff, Zach is leaving a painful past behind in Montana for a new life in Denver as a private investigator, a job that has him crossing paths with beautiful Clare. Not that she minds. After the restless ghost of a Wild West gunman demands her assistance, Clare finds herself needing Zach more and more—and not just for help.


I'm not usually into ghosts or settings regarding the Wild West, but I'm still intrigued by this new Urban Fantasy series.

What New Series Do You Want to Start?

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Spotlight (Excerpt and Giveaway): Desert Bound by Elizabeth Hunter

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Title: Desert Bound (Cambio Springs #2)
Author: Elizabeth Hunter
Publisher: Self
Release Date: October 14, 2014

Can you turn the clock back on your first love? Would you even want to try?

Alex McCann and Teodora "Ted" Vasquez left Cambio Springs together. Ted came back. Alex didn't.

Now, years later, the future alpha of the McCann wolves has returned with plans to bring new life to the dying desert community. Plans that could change everything for the isolated enclave of shapeshifters in the California desert. Some love the plan. Others hate it.

As the town's doctor and one of the strongest daughters in the cat clan, Ted has her own concerns about exposing her community to outsiders. The two former lovers are at each other's throats. And everyone is watching to see what happens.

But when murder once again strikes Cambio Springs, can they overcome their past to help the community they both call home? And can the love they shared once burn again when so many stand against it?


Excerpt

Ted ignored the happy purr of her lion and tried to lean away from his body, but Alex still managed to surround her. With his arms, his scent, and that indescribable hum that always seemed to follow him. Like a live wire, her body reacted. She could feel the spark of awareness as he scented her.

Damn wolf.

He leaned in, his rough voice licking along her nerves.

“You smell good.”

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Review: Chasing Power by Sarah Beth Durst

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Title: Chasing Power
Author:
Sarah Beth Durst
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Release Date: October 14, 2014

Sixteen-year-old Kayla was born with the ability to move things with her mind-things like credit cards and buttons on cash registers-and she has become a master shoplifter. She steals to build up enough money for her and her mom to be able to flee if her dad finds them again . . . which would mean grave danger for them both.

When she's caught stealing by a boy named Daniel-a boy with the ability to teleport-he needs her help and is willing to blackmail her to get it. Together, they embark on a quest to find and steal an ancient incantation, written on three indestructible stones and hidden millennia ago, all to rescue Daniel's kidnapped mother. But Kayla has no idea that this rescue mission will lead back to her own family-and to betrayals that she may not be able to forgive . . . or survive.


My Review

You can read Kayla's review HERE.

After reading the synopsis and with my previous experience with Durst's The Lost, I expected an Indiana Jones-type adventure with some special powers thrown in and possibly more than a little magical realism. And that's exactly what I got. There were a few small issues, but for the most part, I was thoroughly entertained by Chasing Power.

Waiting on Wednesday (76): Court of Fives by Kate Elliott

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Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event that is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine and spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.



Title: Court of Fives (The Fives #1)
Author:
Kate Elliott
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (Hachette)
Release Date: August 18, 2015

A teenage girl secretly competes in her city's prestigious athletic competitions in this high-fantasy adventure that can be pitched as Game of Thrones meets The Hunger Games meets Little Women.

In this imaginative escape into an enthralling new world, World Fantasy Award finalist Kate Elliott's first young adult novel weaves an epic story of a girl struggling to do what she loves in a society suffocated by rules of class and privilege.

Jessamy's life is a balance between acting like an upper class Patron and dreaming of the freedom of the Commoners. But at night she can be whoever she wants when she sneaks out to train for The Fives, an intricate, multi-level athletic competition that offers a chance for glory to the kingdom's best competitors. Then Jes meets Kalliarkos, and an unlikely friendship between a girl of mixed race and a Patron boy causes heads to turn. When a scheming lord tears Jes's family apart, she'll have to test Kal's loyalty and risk the vengeance of a powerful clan to save her mother and sisters from certain death.



I have enjoyed Elliott's Spiritwalker trilogy, but I still need to read the last in the trilogy. Although I haven't read it, yet, I have also heard great things about Elliott's Crown of Stars series. So, of course, when I heard that she was writing a new YA series, I was excited. This just sounds like it's going to be amazing.

What are you waiting on this week?

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

5th Annual Spooktacular Giveaway Hop (INT)

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Welcome to my stop on the humongous Spooktacular Giveaway Hop hosted by the scarily fantastic blogger, Kathy @ I Am A Reader, Not A Writer! I love scary stories (as long as they aren't TOO scary *shudders*), so I know this hop is going to be a lot of fun for everyone taking part.

What You Can Win

I haven't done an international giveaway in a while, I'll open this up for everybody. Today you're entering to win your choice of scary book. I'm not featuring anything in particular today because of my crazy life and getting behind on All The Things. But I digress, so carry on and enter to win below!

Giveaway

Top Ten Tuesday: Places Books Have Made Me Want To Visit

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Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created and hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

Top Ten Places Books Have Made Me Want To Visit

Real Places



1. New York

Ever since Sex and the City, I have dreamed of living in New York even though I have never even visited. I just know it's my place. I just couldn't live in a shoebox for $2,000 a month.



2. England

Probably a majority of all of my books are set in England. It's so full of history and interesting places. I want to visit soooooo bad. It would be awesome if I got to experience it the same as Diana did in Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Author Interview: Sarah Beth Durst, Chasing Power

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Title: Chasing Power
Author:
Sarah Beth Durst
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Release Date: October 14, 2014

Sixteen-year-old Kayla was born with the ability to move things with her mind-things like credit cards and buttons on cash registers-and she has become a master shoplifter. She steals to build up enough money for her and her mom to be able to flee if her dad finds them again . . . which would mean grave danger for them both.

When she's caught stealing by a boy named Daniel-a boy with the ability to teleport-he needs her help and is willing to blackmail her to get it. Together, they embark on a quest to find and steal an ancient incantation, written on three indestructible stones and hidden millennia ago, all to rescue Daniel's kidnapped mother. But Kayla has no idea that this rescue mission will lead back to her own family-and to betrayals that she may not be able to forgive . . . or survive.


Interview

Amber: Hi Sarah, thank you so much for stopping by Bibliophilia, Please! Please tell us a little bit about your new book, Chasing Power.

Sarah Beth Durst: Thanks for having me here! My new book is about Kayla, a sixteen-year-old girl who can move things with her mind, and Daniel, a boy who can teleport across continents and who lies as easily as he travels. Together, they embark on an Indiana-Jones-style adventure to find and steal an ancient incantation, written on three indestructible stones and hidden millenia ago, all to rescue Daniel's kidnapped mother. But Kayla has no idea that this rescue mission will lead back to her own family, and to betrayals that she may not be able to forgive... or survive.

Amber: Where did you get the idea for Chasing Power?